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When smoke gets in our lungs

Some years ago, I used to look at going to a bar or a music venue and the requisite cigarette smoke as one in the same; a package deal, you might say. I thought we had no choice (good job, tobacco lobby). I figured that the smoke came with the territory, part of being an adult in an adult socializing world. To me, smoking was just someone else's vice to accompany the vice I sought in the bottle behind the bar. I'll never forget how I used to bury my smoky clothes from the evening out at the bottom of the clothes basket, or simply put them outside to air out. I remember smelling the smoke/chemical odor again later on in the shower as it rolled down from my hair and covered my face in liquid form. It was worse than walking in a smoking club in the first place. Every time I see the "no smoking" sign on airplanes and hear the no smoking in the lavatory routine, I smirk. To think that people were allowed to smoke in such cramped, airtight quarters would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Anyway, Lafayette City-Parish Council Chairman Kenneth

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Raising cigarette tax has healthy benefits

I don’t hate many things outright. But I can say with some measure of certainty I hate cigarettes. I hate everything about them. The smell. The taste. The chemicals. The butts. There’s nothing nice about them, but our young people continue to be suckered into the idea they are cool if they smoke, so they light up and another generation is hooked. Addicted for life, most likely. That’s why I’m hopeful this will be the year that our lawmakers send the industry a strong message — we value health over commerce by raising the state’s cigarette excise tax. House Bill 77 filed by state Rep. Harold Ritchie of Bogalusa proposes a constitutional amendment that would levy an additional tax of $1.18 per pack of 20 cigarettes, increasing the total tax per pack from 36 cents to $1.54 per pack. If it survives passage, the proposed amendment would come before voters in a statewide election Oct. 24. According to the Louisiana Public Health Institute, the passage of the amendment would result in about $223.5 million in additional dollars added to the

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Smoking inside bars is officially off-limits in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - City Council members who led the push to ban smoking in bars and gambling venues in this notoriously libertine city hailed the start of the smoke-free ordinance Wednesday as a historic step in making the city healthier. At midnight Tuesday, smoking inside the city's more than 500 bars and gambling venues - including the major downtown Harrah's New Orleans casino - became off-limits and smokers across the city's bars lit up their last cigarettes with much fanfare. At the downtown casino, employees handed out lollipops to smoking gamblers at the stroke of midnight and removed ashtrays from the casino's gambling floors. At a news conference Wednesday, anti-smoking advocates and City Council members LaToya Cantrell and Susan Guidry, who led the push for the ban, celebrated the start of the prohibition. "April 22, 2015, will forever be written in the books of the history of New Orleans," Cantrell said. "We together stood tall to protect our workers, to protect our musicians, our cultural bearers, and to protect all citizens

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‘That battle is not over:’ New Orleans smoking ban braces for blowback

Barely 10 hours old, New Orleans' new smoking ban wasn't out of the woods yet, warned City Councilwoman Susan Guidry. "That battle is not over," she said Wednesday morning (April 22). Lobbyists in the state Legislature are seeking to undermine the ban as Harrah's casino continues to push for some exception from it for its gambling floor. 'That battle is not over.' New Orleans City Councilwoman Susan Guidry warns that the city's newly enacted smoking ban is facing resistance from the tobacco industry and Harrah's casino. "It's the tobacco industry, really, with the casino's face (on)," Guidry said. "They're up in Baton Rouge, whispering in the ears of all the legislators and they're saying that what the City Council did was lose the state money. We have seen this over and over and over for many years." Guidry's alarm came amid a celebratory press conference meant to usher in

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Hammond becomes ninth Louisiana city to expand smoking ban to bars and gaming halls

HAMMOND — The city became the first on the north shore and ninth in the state to ban smoking in bars and gaming places, following a split vote of the Hammond City Council on Tuesday night. The law, which goes into effect in 90 days, adds those hospitality businesses previously excluded under state law to the list of employers that must provide smoke-free work environments. Councilman Lemar Marshall, who sponsored the ordinance, said he sees it as a workforce initiative and public health issue. “People have the right to work in an environment free of toxic air, regardless of their occupation,” Marshall said. Councilman Jason Hood, the lone no vote among the five-member council, said after the meeting that he doesn’t believe it’s the government’s place to tell business owners how to run their business. Any bar owner concerned about providing a smoke-free environment for employees or patrons could have done so voluntarily, Hood said, echoing the sentiments of several business owners who spoke against the new law. Existing city

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The Bulldog bar going smoke free next week, expanding lunch hours

The Bulldog bar on Perkins Road has never allowed cigar smoking inside. Come next week, cigarettes are being snuffed out, too. The owners of The Bulldog announced the move this afternoon, saying all three of its bars in Louisiana will be completely smoke free beginning Wednesday, April 22. “Although not required by law, with the passing of the smoking ordinance in New Orleans, we felt it was the right time to implement the policy simultaneously across all locations to promote and provide for an equally healthy establishment right here in Baton Rouge,” says co-owner Eddie Dyer in a prepared release. Next Wednesday is also the date on which the New Orleans smoking ban will go into effect. “We understand that smoking in bars and taverns has long been an accepted practice in Louisiana, and those wishing to still smoke will be permitted to do so outside on our extensive patio,” adds Remi DeMatteo, general manager of The Bulldog Baton Rouge, in the release. DeMatteo also says the Baton Rouge location at 4385 Perkins Road will begin expanding its

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